Phoenix Express 2012 and Beyaz Fırtına 2012 Naval Exercises

According to a statement made on the Official Turkish Navy Web page, Turkey is participating to the Phoenix Express exercise.

Phoenix Express 2012, a multi-national at-sea maritime exercise designed to help increase maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea and to improve cooperation among participating nations of Algeria, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

Turkey is participation in PE12 with Gabya class frigate F-493 TCG Gelibolu and a naval infantry detachment.

On the other hand there has been no official statement either From Turkish General Staff or Turkish Naval Forces about the Turkish naval exercise Beyaz Fırtına 2012. Thus the below list of participating ships is gathered from various local and national news papers, web portals and is not complete. There is also no concrete information about the duration of the exercise.

F-511 TCG Heybeliada Corvette
F-494 TCG Gökçeada Frigate
F-504 TCG Bartın Corvette
P-335 TCG İmbat Fast Attack Craft
P-334 TCG Meltem Fast Attack Craft
P-321 TCG Denizkuşu Fast Attack Craft
P-327 TCG Albatros Fast Attack Craft
P-323 TCG Şahin Fast Attack Craft
P-347 TCG Fırtına Fast Attack Craft
A-571 TCG Albay Hakkı Burak Tanker
F-496 TCG Gökova Frigate

On Board Of The BlackSeaFor Ships

As I have reported earlier, the ships of the BlackSeafor fleet visited Istanbul between 20 and 23 April 2012. They were open to the public and I took the opportunity to visit them all.

It was an interesting experience for me as I was able to compare different ships build by very different construction standards and naval traditions in a very short period of time.

The first thing that struck me was how important it is to create a common communication capability among the ships of different nations when creating a multinational task force. The guides on the foreign ships were very friendly and they could even have been very talkative if I was able to speak their native language.

The first ship on the tour was the flagship of this activation the Rophuca (Project 775) class landing ship of Russian Navy Tsesar Kunikov.

The rivets on Tsesar Kunikov joining the aluminum superstructure and steel hull.

The tour was limited to the outside of the ship. The hull where the military cargo is loaded was made of steel, where the superstructure is made of aluminum to save weight I guess. This explains why there are so many rivets on side of the ship where the superstructure meets the hull. The parts of the ship made from different metals were joined by rivets in an old fashioned way rather than by welding.

An intensive network of water pipes and sprinklers was visible on the outer hull of the ship. I believe the main use of this system to was the ship against nuclear fall-out. But I think such system is very handy to fight a potential fire considering the fatal and devastating fires happened on aluminum hulled ships.

I was positivity surprised to learn that we were able to take photo on board of the Russian ship. This might be my prejudices dating back before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

My quick peeks through the portholes showed me a very spartan and basic interior rooms. I would like to have more information about the habitat and sea worthiness of the ship if my guide was more fluent in English.

The second ship was the Turkish frigate TCG Yavuz. On board I was able to get all the information I could get from our guide as there was no language barrier but interestingly this ship was the only one were the visitors that to submit their mobile phones ans cameras prior to the start of the tour.

One of the two RBU 6000 ASW mortar launchers on board C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian.

The next stop was the Romanian Improved Tetal class corvette C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian. Our guide told us that the primary mission of this ship was ASW. This explains the lack of any guided weapons on board. The main armament consists of 4 piece 533mm torpedo tubes. These were the largest torpedo tubes I have seen on board of a ship. If I did translate it correctly one of the tubes is used as garbage bin for plastic waste.

Although the Tetal class is a indigenous Romanian design, the Russian influence on the design of the ship thought the weapon and sensor systems is obvious. Besides TCG Yavuz, C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian was the only ship were we have been allowed inside of the ship. Our guide was working on this ship for that last 10 years as the helmsman.

One of the four 406mm torpedo tubes for Type 40 ASW torpedoes on board Reshitelni.

Next we have boarded the Bulgarian Pauk I class Reshitelni corvette. Like the Romanian ship the main role of this ship is ASW. There are ASW rockets, torpedo tubes and depth charges as main armament a 76mm gun for other operations and a close in weapon system for self defense. The usefulness of the variable depth sonar for ASW Operations in the Black Sea remains a mystery for me. An extensive piping for the external wash down system was a clear indicator for me that the Russians were really expecting the use of nuclear or chemical weapons at a conflict during the Cold War.

Mine sweeping gear on board Cherkasy

The last ship we have visited was the Ukrainian Natya I (project 266M) class mine sweeper Cherkasy. She is well armed for a mine sweeper compared to the ships with similar duties in most of the NATO navies. There are 4 turrets of 30mm guns and 2 turrets of 25mm guns. In comparison the newest Turkish mine hunters of Aydın class have one barreled 40mm gun turret.

All the mine sweeping is done by mechanical means in old school way. I have been told that there were no divers on board. The ship was crammed, so I guess it is not easy to work on the sweeping gear in rough seas.

The front 57mm/75 AK725 gun on Tsesar Kunikov

The port side UMS-73 missile launcher for Grad-M missiles on Tsesar Kunikov

Bass Tilt H/I band fire control radar on Tsesar Kunikov

Port side 533mm torpedo tubes for 53-65 torpedoes on C.A.E. Sebastian. The sign on the right one says "plastic garbage".

One of the two RBU 6000 ASW mortar launchers on board C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian

Starboard, Square Head IFF antenna on C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian

Peel Cone E band search radar on Reshitelni

Port side depth charges rack with 6 charges on Reshitelni

The port side RBU 1500 ASW mortar launcher on Reshitelni

The port 25mm, twin barreled gun on Cherkasy

30mm AK306 gun on Cherkasy

GKT-2 contact sweeper on Cherkasy

BlackSeaFor Task Force Will Leave Sevastopol

F-240 TCG Yavuz, entering Sevastopol harbor. Photo: Official Ukraine Armed Forces

On 17th April 2012, the ships of the BlackSeaFor naval task force will end their port visit in Sevastopol, Ukraine and will be sailing again for further training.

This is the google translation of the official announcement from the Ukraine Defence Ministry website:

April 10-12 ships, after four-day stay in the port of Constanta (Romania), which began on April 6 activation, on the way to Sevastopol on the Black Sea held a series of exercises, including the control of trade shipping, air and surface conditions, search and rescue , towing, cargo transfer, swimming in the order.

According to the visit, today, April 13, held a meeting protocol command prompt connection with ships acting commander of the type of Armed Forces of Ukraine Vice-Admiral George Il’yinym.

Vice Admiral George Il’yin at the meeting expressed satisfaction with the state of friendly relations in the framework agreement BLACKSEAFOR.

– The Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine responsible attitude to training and directly participate in activation, because we believe that the connection BLACKSEAFOR ships played a major role in maintaining peace and stability in the Black Sea region – said the acting commander of the Navy Armed Forces of Ukraine. He also expressed hope that the sailors BLACKSEAFOR member countries will remain the best references to stay in Sevastopol.

The commander of the operational connection BLACKSEAFOR captain 1 rank Yury Zemsky (Russian Federation), in turn, thanked the Ukrainian side for the warm welcome and stressed the importance of cooperation between the sailors to strengthen friendly relations.

Protocol meeting also took place in Sevastopol City State Administration.

Crews of ships BLACKSEAFOR during his stay in Sevastopol will be able to see the historical sights of the city.

14 and 15 April from 15.00 to 18.00 ships BLACKSEAFOR connection will be open to visiting guests and residents of Sevastopol.

As planned, 17 April operational international connection will be released from the port of Sevastopol on the implementation of other measures, the plan activation, will last through April 24.

For more news on BlackSeaFor’s April activation click here.

Turkish Naval Academy Training Craft

Six of the eight training craft of the Turkish Naval Academy were seen during a navigation and formation training at Bosphorus. I guess this is a good opportunity to try WordPress’ new photo gallery tool.


Turkish Warships Visit Novorossiysk

The commander of Turkish frigate receiving bread and salt, a Russian tradition. Photo:Fuad Seferov, Moskova, Cihan

Three Turkish warships taking part in exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012 are in russian port Novorossiysk for an official visit.

According to Russian naval portal, the frigates F-245 TCG Oruçreis, F-243 TCG Yıldırım and the fast attack craft P-332 TCG Mızrak have arrived in Novorossiysk on 13th April.

The Turkish ship will stay for the weekend and then leave, to continue the exercise.

 The main purpose of the visit – a demonstration of the flag, the development and strengthening of good neighborly relations between Russia and Turkey,” – said the press service of the city administration

Click here for the photos of this visit from a Turkish news agency.

A Busy Day At The Bosphorus

Saturday, 7th April 2012 was a busy day at Bosphorus. First the Rhein class tender A-579 TCG Cezayirli Hasan Paşa and two mine hunters plus one veteran mine sweeper made northbound passage through the Strait for their deployment to the Deniz Yıldızı 2012 naval exercise.

A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa, passing through Bosphorus on her deployment to the naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012.

M-269 TCG Anamur, passing through Bosphorus on her deployment to the naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012.

M-260 TCG Edincik, passing through Bosphorus on her deployment to the naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012.

M-501 TCG Fenike, passing through Bosphorus on her deployment to the naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012.

M-269 TCG Anamur was build in Turkey. She is one of the 6 Aydın class minehunters. Their design is based on German Type 332 class. M-260 TCG Edincik is one of the 5 Circé class mine hunters bought from France in 1997, when the two countries had a rare period of harmony. M-501 TCG Fenike was build in 1967 in USA to be transferred to Turkish Navy under Military Assistance. She is old and smoking not as heavy as the Russian destroyer Smetlivy, but smoking never the less.

Following these warships, F-511 TCG Heybeliada made her deployment. I will post these photos separately.

Shortly, after the previously mentioned warships, a giant ship made her southbound passage through Bosphorus. The drillship Deepwater Champion was since March 2011 in Black Sea searching for hydrocarbons in Turkish territorial waters and in EEZ. Her deployment in the Black Sea was financed by ExxonMobil and Turkish Petroleum Company, TPAO.

Transocean / MSC Gusto P10000 Drillship, Deepwater Champion, returning from the Black Sea, where she spend 12 months.

SG-303 escorting, Deepwater Champion.

Several Turkish Coast Guard vessels and tugs of the Directorate General of Coastal Safety escorted the passage of Deepwater Champion as she is a high value assets and her length makes her passage through the Strait extremely difficult.

Turkish Naval Special Forces' infiltration boat making a dash through Bosphorus.

The last naval vessel I have seen that day was one of the two MRTP 22 class infiltration boats of Turkish Naval Special  Forces Command.  Delivered in 2008 these boats have a maximum speed of 54 knots and carry one stabilized machine gun platform in forecastle and 2 non-stabilized machine guns plus 2 automated grenade launcher in the aft.

The April Activation Of The BlackSeaFor Has Started

158 RFS Tsesar Kunikov in Istanbul, in 2008.

On 6th April 2012 the Spring Activation of the call-on naval task force BlackSeaFor has started in Constanta, Romania.

The Russian Federation is in command of the BlackSeaFor since August 2011 and the Russian landing ship Tsesar Kunikov is the flagship of the force. This activation of the BlackSeaFor will last until 24th April. during this period the task force will spend 6 days underway and 12 days in visiting Constanta, Sevastopol and Istanbul.

This is the current composition of BlackSeaFor:

158 RFS Tsesar Kunikov (Flagship) Russia Landing Ship
F-240 TCG Yavuz Turkey Frigate
13 BGS Reshitelni Bulgaria Corvette
264 ROS C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian Romania Corvette
U-311 UPS Cherkasy Ukraine Minehunter

During this activation of the task force following activities are scheduled:

Peace support operation, and search and rescue training,
Participating in joint training Exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012,
Maritime, tactical maneuvering and combat training.

Turkish Navy Starts Deniz Yıldızı 2012 Exercise

F-511 TCG Heybeliada, the Milgem class corvette on her northbound passage in Bosphorus prior to the Deniz Yıldızı naval exercise.

According to the official announcement made from Turkish Navy website the naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012 has started today.

The exercise will be conducted in the Black Sea and Marmara Sea. 8 frigates (half of the inventory), 1 corvette, 3 submarines, 7 fast attack craft, 4 auxiliaries, 4 maritime patrol aircraft, 6 helicopters and various special forces and EOD teams will take part in the exercise. The non navy units taking part in the exercise are 13 coast guard vessels, 2 coast guard helicopter and various planes from Turkish Air Force.

Live missile firings will be performed during the exercise.  Inebolu, Sinop, Samsun, Ordu, Trabzon, Rize, Hopa  and Novoroski ports will be visited by the participating units.

The aim of the exercise is to test the ability and the capability of Turkish Navy to performs its duties especially in the Black Sea. In this context a section of the Deniz Yıldızı 2012 will be conducted with the participation of the BlackSeaFor (which was activated on 6th April). This joint training will improve the ability of the Black Sea navies to make joint operations and to increase their readiness and training levels.

The Turkish Navy schedules the annual Deniz Yıldızı exercise  to be at the same time with the Spring activation of the BLACKSEAFOR. During the last couple exercises one decommissioned ship was sunk as target during the live firing part.

TCG Zafer Still Active, Takes Part In UNIFIL

TCG Zafer in Mersin. Photo:

Turkish Navy’s sole surviving Knox class frigate, F-253 TCG Zafer is very active despite her age. Last year she took part in Operation Unified Protector. She had her photos posted on the Facebook page of USNS Kanawha.

I was thinking that she may have been already decommissioned but the old lady was seen today in Mersin harbor.

TCG Zafer in Mersin. Photo:

The UN crest used by the naval vessels taking part in UNIFIL is clearly visible in the photo below, which was also taken today. This indicates that TCG Zafer is now taking part in UNIFIL mission.  

So when the old Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy arrives in the eastern Mediterranean in a couple of days, she will meet at least one other ship close to her age.

Turkish Navy Naval Parade In Dardanelles

Just like the last year, on 18 March 2012, Turkish Navy organized a naval parade in Dardanelles, to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the victory against the Allied Fleet in 18 March 1915.

Last year it was a 25 hours round trip to Çanakkale for me, but this year it was a family event for the whole weekend.

Following ships took part in the parade:

F-240 TCG Yavuz. She did not take part in the parade but was open for public visiting.

F-243 TCG Yıldırım

F-244 TCG Barbaros

F-245 TCG Oruçreis

F-246 TCG Salihreis

M-270 TCG Akçay

P-330 TCG Kılıç

P-332 TCG Mızrak

P-336 TCG Zıpkın

P-338 TCG Bora


SG-85 TCSG-85

SG-91 TCSG-91

SG-303 TCSG-303

SG-308 TCSG-308

SG-312 TCSG-312

SG-508 TCSG-508

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